tv Book Discussion on The Fractured Republic CSPAN July 24, 2016 1:00am-2:01am EDT
>> i also picked up aitches for hawk across zero read "the new yorker" compilations of short stories of what i can read what i have time the other thing i want to mention think about the books that change your way of thinking that was the feminine mystique a lead ball went on and i decided that maybe my life would not consist of getting married and having children and living that kind of life i should think
i am a senior fellow here at the manhattan institute. our speaker today is the founder and editor of national affairs magazine. it's a real privilege for me to introduce him today. he is and ask standing mentor role model to younger scholars such as myself and really all you need to know about him is that he has the wisdom not to use twitter. i should probably say more about him than he doesn't tweet so, more relevant today, he is better than anyone in america at defining what conservatism means, showing its relevance to modern society and applying its principles to the challenges of today. now he has written a book doing just that, the fractured republic renewing america's
social contract and the age of individualism. i think this book is an extraordinary accomplishment just as a diagnosis of our society's economic, cultural and political formalities. he didn't stop there. for me the most important and may be overlooked message of the book is the importance of presenting a positive vision for america's future. it actually brought me back to my former career as a management consultant and if you will forgive me a moment of jargon a speech, i would like to quote something written by my former colleagues, people get excited by imagining themselves on the beach or the ski slope, not by
reading the travel itinerary. effective change requires leaders that i can inspire people and align their behaviors, decisions and actions. this vision often works more through metaphors and stories than fact an emphasizes the destination as well as the journey. it begins by asking what is our beach. maybe that sounds obvious but i think it is universally ignored in business and politics. we have no shortage of riders telling us what's wrong how great things used to be and why things used to work i think that work is important but even for me, the message message was an exhilarating wake-up call. if the path to reform starts not with the conference but with the help picture of how things look. not with an itinerary but with the beach.
he forces everyone to think about that beach and actually provide a compelling one of his own. many people will disagree with his particular vision but i believe he will force more the debate to occur in those terms and that america will be better for it. so here to tell you more. i welcome him. [applause] >> thank you very much. i appreciate it. the thought that i would be a mentor to you is scary and wonderful so i appreciate it. thank you especially to the manhattan institute for inviting me to talk to you and bringing you all together and for everything you do. i'm a grateful consumer of so much of what you do both in publishing and reading what you publish and learning from it. i appreciate it. i've never before thought of what i'm doing as describing a beach and from now on i will.
thank you. that said, i'm going to start with something a little more depressing than a beach. i will speak briefly and give you a bit of an overview about what this book is and what it has to say and then hear what you are interested in what you're thinking about and what you take away from what i'm trying to offer. >> i'll start where the book starts which is with the simple fact that american politics today and in some respects american society is drowning in a frustration or anxiety. we are living through what seems to be a very uneasy time. that is reflected in the tone and tenor of our debates and in the kind of candidates that are rising and appealing to voters and the source of concern you hear people expressing. if you listen to our political conversations you have to conclude that america is deeply frustrated. at first glance it's not
particularly hard to say why we should be frustrated. it's not that hard to explain the attitude. for one thing our economy has been very sluggish since the 21st century began and the strongest year of economic performance in this century was 12 years ago, 2004. even that year we saw growth that barely reached the average of any of the prior four decades the sluggishness of the economy leaves people feeling like they're running in place which is certainly part of the frustration people are feeling. at the same time the century began with the worst terrorist attack in the country's history and has left us with a sense that has not changed or vetted that the hope that we might have had for a somewhat peaceful era in the '90s has been shattered. bipartisan alert politics has been divided and polarized.
some key indicators that crossed the lines between politics and economics and culture, things like family breakdown and inequality have also pointed in the wrong direction for a long time and have stood in array of mobility and the american dream. the opening years of the 21st century has given americans a lot of reason to worry but there's also been more to the frustration of this time than just the straightforward response of circumstances. our problems are very real but the way we talk about them is often disconnected from reality so that this kind of diagnoses and prescriptions people offer us seem only to contribute to the disorientation that defines her public life. when you listen carefully to what's being said in our politics, you realize that it's
disconnected in a particular way. a way of talking about our problems now is dominated by nostalgia, by powerful and widely shared sense that her country country has lost ground, that we've fallen far and fast from a peak that a lot of americans can still remember. i will give you example that i think will strike you as familiar, not because you've heard this line before but because you hear it all the time. how often have you heard a politician say something like this, many people watching to make can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory business downtown. you didn't always need a degree, your competition was limited to your neighbors. if you worked hard chances are you would have a job for life. you would have a decent paycheck and good benefits and an occasional promotion. maybe you would even see your kids work at the same company. that world is changed in the change has been painful for many. that happens to be president
obama in the state of the union address a couple years ago. it could easily be almost any politician any party. with a little more emphasis on the cultural cohesion of that time that everyone misses it might've been a republican. might've been met romney in the last election or any of the candidates in this election critical to could've been hillary clinton or elizabeth warren. it often does, with poor grammar and less coherence it could be donald trump right now. calling for rolling back globalization and immigration and recovering what we've lost. america just isn't what it used to be. that's the theme of contemporary american politics. it speaks to a public in society that comes down to a question that's asked in anguish, what has happened to our country. you you know, it's not a bad question. something big and significant has happened to our country and in its less cartoonish form, the nostalgia that we see is understandable.
the america that we miss so much, the nation that has emerged from the second world war or the great depression and gradually evolved from there was exceptionally unified and cohesive. it had at first and amazing confidence and big institution and big government and big business managing the nation together and meeting at sneed. that confidence by the way is stunning when you look at what people were saying in mid century america. the cultural life at mid century was not much less consolidated. it was dominated by broad traditionalists and religious attendance was at a peak and families were strong. birth rates were high and divorce rates were low. in the wake of a war in which most of the competitors
literally burned each other's economy to the ground, the united states dominated the world economy which allowed it to offer economic opportunity to all kinds of workers with all kinds of skill levels. almost almost immediately after the war, that consolidated nation started a process of un- pointing and fragmenting. over the subsequent decades the culture diversified. it's important to recognize the scale of immigration. because of immigration restrictions there's been an act in the 1920s mid century america had an incredibly low level of cultural diversity into those restrictions were lifted in the mid-1960s. in 1970 census, the percentage census, the percentage of people living in america who had been born abroad as an all-time low of 4.5%. today it's back at an all-time high of almost 20%. that is certainly part of what has happened to our country. meanwhile some key parts of the economy, some were deregulated to keep up with rising competitors.
our labor market was forced to specialize in higher skill work that has diminished opportunities for americans with low levels of education. politics gave way by the 70s to renewed divisions that have only been getting sharper and sharper sense. in one area after another america was a model of consolidation and consensus. through the following decade that consensus fractured. by the end of the 20th century, this fracturing of consents and in and consensus grew into polarization. we have grown less conformist but more fragmented. less diverse but not unified. a lot of this has meant gains for america that we shouldn't overlook. just in options and choices in every part of life but over time
it's meant a loss of faith and institution and loss of social order and structure, loss of national cohesion and security and stability. those losses piled up and now seem to overwhelm. that has made our 21st century politics backward looking and unhappy. conservatives and liberals emphasize different facets of these changes. liberals tend to treasure the growing cultural diversity but lament the economic dislocation in the loss of social solidarity, the rising inequality. the trouble is that these changes are all tied together.
liberalization that the left celebrates is the fragmentation that the right laments and vice versa. that set of forces liberalizing and fragmenting, diversifying diversifying and fracturing are all functions of the extensional driving force of american life since the end of the second war, individualism. in very broad terms the first half of the 20th century up through the second world war was an age of growing consolidation and cohesion. as our economy and duster allies in the government became more socialized, national identity and cohesion were valued above individuality and diversity. many of the most powerful forces were pushing every american to become more like everyone else. the country that emerged from world war ii was therefore highly, incredibly, exceptionally cohesive. the second half of the 20th century and the early decades have marked an age of e consolidation as the culture became very gated and diverse in the economy diversified and deregulated and individualism and personal identity is held
above conformity or national unity. in these years a lot of the most powerful forces in our country have driven people not to be more like everyone else but have driven everyone to be more like himself or herself. mid century america, especially especially the 50s and 60s stood between these two distinguished periods. for a time they were able to keep 1 foot in each. that kind of straddling of cohesion really was a wonder to behold. it's not surprising that we idolize that time and we miss it it offered us a stable backdrop for different kinds of liberalization. that liberalization now has done its work in our country, our society is its result. we are a highly individualistic
diverse and fragmented country. economically, politically and culturally. no movement is about to be undone. we need to solve the problems we have that kind of society. both our strengths and our weaknesses are functions of this path that we have traveled together and will now have to draw on those strengths to address those weaknesses. in one important sense, this is what happened to our country. it's the challenge of the politics of 21st century america. how to use the advantages of a diverse dynamic society to address the disadvantages of a fractured and insecure society. if that doesn't sell like the question that our politics is asking it's because it isn't. our political culture not been very good about grasping the challenges we face or the strengths we have in facing the. it's instead been overwhelmed by nostalgia, by a desire to reverse the process that has transformed our society and so whether in economic terms or cultural terms, to re-create a consolidated centralized
consensus driven society that we were not so long ago. first step would be to see that that kind of reversal is not an option. we probably will wouldn't want to do it anyway. instead we have think about how to address the challenges of dissolution and growing polarization, the loss loss of workers security and by making the most of strength of diversity and specialization, that that question would point the way toward the next set of political and policy debate. not this year apparently but when our politics is finally ready to face reality. how do we use our very fragmentation itself as a strength? for all of our troubles in this election year, i think conservatives ultimately are uniquely well-positioned to answer that question.
it would require an approach to government requires problem solvers throughout our society rather than hoping that one washington could get things right. it means bringing the bottom-up reports to progress that you see in every other part of american life and the approach solves problems by giving people lots of options and letting their choices drive the process that is not with the social democratic ideal of the left looks like. this more distributed, decentralized version is what conservatives usually have to offer. it's also the logic of federalism embodied in our constitution. it's how conservatives will could be a model.
those are proposed in some arenas where we or you are the manhattan institute have been most active over the years. that's what the conservative approach to health care looks like. it's why welfare and education tend to look like. as those kind of examples would suggest, this bottom-up approach have been championed by conservatives in some areas for a long time with limited success against a very entrenched state. as the old progressive model adopts itself in our politics is proving inadequate, time is growing for a new conservative approach to make its case more boldly both in familiar arenas and the new ones. that kind of modernize conservatism and also has a lot to offer our cultural debates. the fragmentation of our society is an anonymous challenge for social conservatives who have
frequently been able to imagine that the represent a more kind of consensus that they are a moral majority defending commonly held views from a tiny but aggressive liberal minority. that consensus was always shakier than it seemed and dependent on the support of loosely traditionalists and this more majority approach has become unsustainable. the loosely affiliated traditionalists have become unaffiliated and social conservatives need to be used to being in the minority in a fractured country. in that kind of society traditionalists would be wise to emphasize subcultures rather than struggling and so the mainstream culture. while some battles, especially about religious liberty remain essential, conservatives need to focus on how best to fill that space in their own community.
that's how it traditionalists can thrive in a diverse america by offering its help not as a pass back to an old consensus that doesn't exist but as an attractive vibrant alternative to the moralizing chaos of society. in this sense and in general, community life would be to influence future. these institutions from families and churches in labor and business groups and local government can help to balance cohesion and help us live out our freedom in practice. they can keep our diversity from developing into and help us use our multiplicity to address challenges. we can have a more decentralized, bottom-up politics that lowers the stakes
of our national debate and uses our diversity as a means for solving problems. that kind of politics could help us do more than that. by revitalizing society it could help to cross the bridge to the vital space between the individual and the state. in the process it could help us to reunite her fractured republic. to build the virtues necessary for american citizenship. we are lacking in those virtues in the sense of common purpose. this election year has shown us that and left us concern for the state of our country. the frustration up on display and the angry populism that's working will forces us to ask what defines our country. this election year marks the end
of an old model of national politics that just can't meet america's needs anymore. i'm afraid that the exhaustion of that baby boomer order is really what will be on display this fall. 270-year-old candidates yell at each other about how best to go backwards. to see the way forward we must open our eyes and grasp the challenges and opportunities that they represent and to see how applying our principles to novel circumstances can be the recipe for an american revival. take you. [applause]
we will take questions from the audience. i think i can ask the first question. i was in the audience. i wondered if you could say little bit more about the institutions you were describing and the ones with the examples were ones that were so prominent in the 50s and 60s with fraternal organizations. do you see a role for those in the future or is there a new wave of finding institutions that are more likely to succeed? >> first of all, i think it can seem like those were the institutions that are prominent in midcentury america but by then those institutions had been subject to a half-century of assault from a centralizing policy that took away a lot of what they were doing. it's very interesting to read the sociology of the 1950s
about the meetings. the request for community which is a very timely book was written in 1953 at three at the time we think of as peak of civil society america. civil society had society had been undone by progressivism for a half-century. he worried that the next step after centralizing would be a sort of radical individualism that would break his party apart but wouldn't necessarily look to that time to solve that problem. in all respects the challenges we face now are like the challenges that the united states faced in the 19th century. they would be putting aside the 1860s, if you looked at america you would've found the country
that was very diverse, intensely divided, had no confidence in its institution. if you could've taken a pole at any point, the approval rating for congress would have been 2%. you don't have to read a lot of mark twain to get a sense of what people thought of american institutions. for many of the same reasons we are in the situation now. we reach this point as the country that lived through that moment and lived through progressivism in this era of individualism. we can assume those are going to be there waiting for us to come back and we can go back and do it again. it will take a different kind of revitalization and revival. i think above all what it requires is making those kinds of institutions significant, giving them some authority, making what they do matter and that means giving them a role in solving the problems that we have.
that requires some decentralization of our welfare system and education system and healthcare system, transportation and it seems to me there is a big role for decentralizing conservatism come we also have other kinds of institutions when i think you're getting at that are creatures of the internet age, for one thing or that have come up in more recent times to try to help us solve the kinds of problems we have now. those are a mixed bag. the internet accelerates the kind of atomism and hyper individualism that we suffer from because it allows us to be very selective about the experiences we have and the people we interact it with it lets us be more more like who we are ready are all the time. that's not a bad thing. we all do it because we like it but it does mean the effect it has on our social life can tend
to weekend where communities reside. i think those can certainly be part of what it would take to bring people back into the institutions of american life. >> you are quite accurate. i think we are headed toward the more fragmented culture. looking back and seeing major developments, you haven't mentioned the end of history, the end of deeply seated conflict about the role of government. the truth is the traditional left has been defeated. it's dead even in europe. were not going to see a large government future in that sentence were government takes over to manage the economy.
it's not going happen. on the other hand the right has not seen many conservatives who want to eliminate the welfare state. were talking about a future without, where were heading is fragmentation which is quite accurate compared to 50 years ago, but that future you are imagining is where people take on the burdens of freedom in the heavy responsibilities of living in a free society. it's not that the fragmentation will be too much but major parts of america will be ceased to be individualist. both take up another set of burdens. those burdens dominate the entire outside worlds outside
the west. that world is falling apart. they are coming to our borders, seeking entry and also, the question is the thing that we should feel about. [inaudible] >> thank you. it's a great question. i was almost afraid you are going to ask question without getting people murmuring and people upset but you didn't, so thank you. i don't quite agree. in a sense i came to write this book out of a question that's a little bit like that question. the book i wrote before this was a different kind of book, more historical and philosophical but it was about the roots of the left right divide which you suggest have come to an end and
therefore really the nature of the left right divide. i tried to look at it by looking at edmund burke and thomas paine by looking at the basic questions. the premise of that and i think it's demonstrated in that argument is that the left right divide in liberal societies is not an extreme divide between radical libertarianism and socialism. the left right divide is a disagreement between two kinds of liberalism. two kinds of liberalism that differ very profoundly in the sense of what the human being is and their ideas about how we come to know things in the world and how problems can be solved. the differences are real but they are differences within the 40-yard line. i think american politics has always shown that. the history that it never really happened in america anyway.
we've always lived in a different way and i think they have not experienced that kind of struggle of fascism against communism or libertarianism against a socialism. so, the trouble that i see looking at our politics now through that lens is not that our politics is small, it's that it's totally disconnected from today's problem. there is a kind of left right debate we could have that would be an american left right debate, not too radical ends but progressive sense of what to do in both of them would have something to contribute. one would be better than other but we don't have that debate at all. in a sense the question of why that is is the question i was
left with and it led me to this one. we think the reason is that neither of our parties or coalitions is looking at the 21st century and its own terms and if they did they would both have a lot more to offer than they now have. the leaders of both seemed totally unaware of what they might have to offer the public and instead reelection is a choice between 1965 and 1981. the public looks at that and thinks what is this. i'm not sure that the end of history is that big change for america. think it kind of politics in our country is what we have on its working. not in the sense that our politics are terribly radical but it's disoriented and not
looking at the problems that it might have something to say about. >> i hear what you're saying but the problem i've had is we've had eight years of increasing centralization and increasing power of the central government and the way the betting markets are saying we will have another four or eight years of that. how are these intermediate institutions supposed to grow. >> healthcare is now much more centralized. every day you meet another agency squeezing out some of these middle level thing so how is it going to happen when we have this huge central government growing and growing and taking over? >> we've had more than eight years of centralization. we've had 80 years of centralization. i think that puts the question
in a slightly different light because it seems to me that the last eight years have not been the most successful time for american progressivism. the last 80 years have been a success of time. we do stand at a point where our way of thinking about politics and government is awfully centralized. i don't see that as attention with the dynamic of individualism in our culture. i think they go together and people have made that argument. ultimately individualism, moral individualism are two sides of one going. they always go together because one needs the other and makes the other possible. so conservatism doesn't choose one of those. it offers an alternative to the combination of the two of them. that's white seems to me that
has to focus itself on that middle space. the how, it's not hard to persuade americans that this isn't working. the problem like americans have have in the 1960s, the problems conservatives had is that a lot of americans believed it could work that the great society would succeed in solving the nation's problem. the sheer sheer confidence in that, when you look at opinion polls and what politician said in the 50s but especially the early 60s, it was just amazing. no one talks like that. bernie sanders doesn't talk like that. the notion that poverty is behind us when now we have to figure out how not to get bored in a society that doesn't have any problems. that's not how we think now. if you begin your approach to the public like that and say this doesn't work and we can offer something that is much
more likely to work, that would be persuasive because in part looks like wood drawings work in american life. it doesn't make the assumption that somebody in the head office has all the answers. it makes the assumption that by giving people a lot of choices you could gradually improve things. i think that makes sense in 21st-century america. it's an old idea but it's also a new idea, how the 21st-century works when it works. i think consumers are in a stronger place that we give the we give each other credit for. there's no way to find out if we can succeed except by trying which at the moment is not what we are doing. >> that's a brilliant review, breath taking. let's hear the candidate you would recommend rather than these 270 -year-olds that are screaming at each other.
what would you say? >> the last thing i would ever want to be as president. i used to work for the president and i don't know why anybody wants to be president. you have to be truly crazy. i think with that candidate would have stayed the public would have to begin from a kind of humility about the nature of what he or she could do as president and solving problems. it would have to begin from a recognition that not everything is a problem. they some discrete problems. some of them are economic and some are cultural. is there a way for government to be less harmful in helping the country. i think the policy agenda would be driven by the sense that solutions work best when they
work from the bottom up. you can take any issue want. the health care debate has been the epitome of the left right divide on how to solve problems. our healthcare system is incredibly inefficient and let the cost run out of control. from the left you get a centralizing answer they need to set it up and make sure everybody has to buy what he is saying selling. the right answers to give more choices and allow more products to be sold and allow people to have the resources they need to become consumers admit that the system. gradually you will like your way
to a better system. i don't think could find a lot of americans who have any idea that's why conservatives say. i don't think they did a very good job explaining the difference between. [inaudible] it seems to me there's a practical matter, the canada inclined to think that way is in a good position to have a lot to draw on. in a funny way we have more of the programmatic policy ideas that we do of the vision of how it's different and what this book is about. i think the american public doesn't have the faintest idea that there is this basic difference about how to solve problem and conservatives are on a side of that question they might find attractive. to begin with, i think you want
a politician who is capable of making that kind of argument. there aren't a lot of them. there are some. they do tend to be younger. republicans do have some promising members of congress. one of them as speaker the house. it doesn't take that many. i think it changes the tone of how you approach the public. frankly, to put aside the kind of cataclysmic rhetoric that is at the core of how conservatives talk to the public, we say if we don't and the surround right now is the end of the american republic. that's just not. it's also not helpful and is not the way to persuade anyone of anything. you listen to some may say that and you think that's probably crazy and it probably is. the problem is if we don't change things now we will gradually decline and we could
keep doing that for a long time. that's a harder case to make but i think it's closer to the truth and more persuasive. >> i will ask you the charles murray question all call it. thinking about all of these communities and decentralization across america, did you find in researching for the book evidence or things that we could count on for optimism that some of these communities are up to the task of decentralization? they're up to building these communities, it seems like a lot of these communities have become so much that there isn't the opportunity so did you find anything that will be a source of optimism on that's or? >> thank you.
i would never want to be accused of optimism. [laughter] that's a good thing. optimism is just expecting good things to happen. that's crazy. i would want to be accused of being hopeful and i think that's very different. to be hopeful is to believe that there are the resources for improvement and whether those are material resources or moral or spiritual, it takes all of them. i do think those are there. now, obviously please use the move me to help those resources are lacking. that's how they got into the situation they're in and why they've remained there. it's what it means to be in the most trouble. in a lot of communities there are problems that won't be
resolved by someone the outside thing figure it out or have a meeting. i think when you ask yourself how do i help, i would make a difference, the incident needs to involve ways of building things up within those communities rather than ways of mailing checks to the right address. it's hard to do from the center. i think the diversity of problems we have requires an enormous diversity. when you think of welfare you always think of the opening line where all happy families are like put all unhappy.
people try to think about how to help most trouble is and how to begin in those places. it's an argument for helping to build those resources and believing that building those could make a difference. >> i want to bring up a scenario uber is a technological, social transformation of how people get around and then you have people using the means levers of government to block the progress that is itself entirely extra governmental. it came out simply as a matter
of people owning phones and having wi-fi and gps and cars being able to talk to them. flashforward 25 or 30 years and you have a self driving car which means you don't have to own a car because you can order a car to come to you and take you somewhere. that itself is a kind of gigantic social economic transformation that you can see coming you can also see a wave, a colossal number of forces that will do whatever they can to impede the progress to that point. the question is, is there, is it a political matter that a combined set of forces or voices or people have to build the case to help win those forces to make technological progress impossible or does one live in a
technocratic fantasy where it will simply happen and you can't stop it. it will happen the way hollywood took over or something like that. in political terms, we can see the transformation that you're talking about what we can also how it will be, how the levers of government can be used to make it impossible or at least to make the, to slow it down to the transition will be the worst possible kind of transition. costly, painful and without much benefit.
i think it's just gotten to the point where it would be crazy for the city council to do anything about uber. that's one way to think about the problem you are describing but there's no question that there will be resistance to changes to a system that help incumbent actors. that means there's no question that any kind of reform along these lines are going to be messy and slow and not ideal. i'm not of the view that messy and slow is the worst way for change to happen. i think in some ways it might be the best way for change to happen because of it's too quick it's likely to involve the
embodiment of terrible ideas. if it's slower it can try to weed out those terrible ideas. messy, were a complicated society so a change that fits us is going to be messy. the problem is, i think the essence of the question is how do you deal with the cronyism of the status quo that will try to prevent improvement? i do think that is one of the great challenges for people who want to advance this kind of vision. one of the great challenges for conservatives going forward is to become sworn enemies of cronyism. if you look at the republican party would not say is now the case. i think it's very important for people to try to influence the politicians on the right to talk a lot about this and to make much of it because it's extremely important. ultimately becomes impossible for the sorts of changes we want to happen if we allow the people who are now in the system to
have so much control of the process and changing it. cronyism is not just a way of trying to send the populist message and show people were on their side. it can be that, but the notion that there's a lot of political gain from that has always struck me as overstated. i think it exists because it benefits a lot of people and people tend to like it. but it's an enormous problem to anybody who believes that the way to advance progress is through competition because cronyism if anything is anti- competitive so it really cuts to the heart of what i would want to see happen. i do think that's a question to constantly act ask and wrestle with. the only answer is to fight it knowing that you won't always win but you can make progress if what you're offering is attractive.
>> and president of the new york civil rights coalition. my question relates to the opposition you put out that america is not what it used to be. a lot of americans the answer to that proposition is thank god. you have blacks, other racial minorities, young women can be of, lesbian, have so many americans who feel america is not and should not be what it used to be. my question is, with respect to the social change movement, that was not brought through a left right lens. you had people on the left and people on the right people in the middle but you had a consensus. it is based on public opinion and public change in the congress and the judiciary branch. how do you use us or move us to position where we can continue to protect our republic based on
not seeing a divided mom americans between left and right but really address serious real problems in our society. >> thank you very much for the question. i am one of the people who is critical of the notion that america is not what used to be and that's all there is to say. i think that's the wrong way to think about the present. things have gotten better and worse. they're always getting better and worse. that's what makes it frustrating to be in and around politics is that there is no easy argument to make about the direction of change. there's always a cost for progress and a cost to resisting progress. to your more general question, it does seem to me -- in a lot
of ways we are having too many of the most important fights at the national level. part of what i mean by arguing that our politics need to be somewhat decentralized is that some of these arguments need to be had by people who are looking at one another and that is truly one way to get around that divide. it's a lot easier to sustain in the abstract for you and your neighbor. i cannot see why we have to decide who gets to go to wet bathroom in the white house. i just don't think it's necessary to do that. it would be a lot easier to live with one another if we didn't have to have one answer for the entire country to that question decided by the president. i think there are a lot of issues like that and for good practical reasons and for these type of social progress reasons, would would be better taken up
now at a level closer to the ground. not a very question is like that. there are questions we have to resolve as a people, but i think you take way too many questions to that level and what it does is raises the temperature of our politics to such a degree that it becomes unsustainable. then all we ever do is yell about how the whole world hinges on the outcome of the next election. we can change that and i think we ought to. >> we are out of time. thank you for your question. >> thank you. [applause]
[inaudible conversation] >> here's a look at some of the upcoming book fairs and festivals having around the country. book tv is live at the second annual book festival held that the state capital in jackson featuring majority leader and a in the month the annual baltimore book festival will take place this ease in her harbor. then on saturday, september 24 for the 16th year in in a row, book tv will be live from the national book festival. for more information about the book fairs and festivals that book tv will be covering into what previous coverage, order the the book. have on our website.
>> we were on the track team at west point the two of us represented the squadron. >> i knew i could shoot better than he could. >> and he called up and he said. [inaudible] >> that's after he left and he went to michigan. >> he calls me up in 1962. he was looking for some more astronauts. i said i've done all this and i'm qualified so i'm going to apply. i said well i can see better
than you can and i went to mit and i'm working on rendezvous in space. i think they would like to know how to do that. maybe i can help them out. so i applied. >> but you're pretty stubborn so he tried again. >> try try again. >> but you got accepted as the third group of astronauts. will know that. you became an astronaut. let's talk about, you originally were going to play geminis are. >> i help train the guy,
mcdonald douglas built mercury spacecraft and they built it a little bigger so you could put two people in it became the geminis spacecraft. they had figured out different ways and some other people were pretty bold and neither of these were very good but mine was better. i went to the boss and they said they would like to really fly in one of these flights. he said nothing. the list comes out i am on the